Monday, January 30, 2012

Book Review: The Gospel Story Bible by Marty Machowski

I wish I had The Gospel Story Bible when my children were younger. This book is helpful for those parents who want to give their children (and themselves!) a rich reading experience of the stories of God's holy plan of redemption found in the pages of Scripture.

When you read through this book, you will find the accounts of all the major characters of the Bible, including Daniel, Job, Samuel, etc. Each story is only one to two pages long, ideal for young (i.e., short!) attention spans. This book would be great to use for family devotions as well as individual reading pleasure.

The illustrations are vivid and the page backgrounds are comprised of different colors, making it visually appealing to children.

I think the only thing I do not like about this book is that they used the word "Bible" in the title, making it confusing for consumers to understand what this book actually is. It is not a Bible, but a book of Bible stories. The entire text of the Bible is not contained in this book. But that is a minor thing, and can be overlooked.

Over all, I really like this book of biblical stories. They follow the text of the Bible without commentary (which I think is important for young children to learn the truth of God's Word). And best of all, the gospel is mentioned in every one! What a way for the author to tie it all together.

I give The Gospel Story Bible 5 out of 5 stars!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Book Review: Chasing Mona Lisa by Tricia Goyer and Mike Yorkey

Chasing Mona Lisa is a new novel set in the time of the Second World War. It contains interesting history of that period in which the Nazis stole thousands of paintings and other works of art from the countries that they invaded. In order to protect their valuable artwork, the curators of the Louvre packed up many of them and hid them away in chateaux across the country.

An interesting article describes what happened to the Mona Lisa during this time: "On the eve of World War II, curators at the Louvre swathed the museum's most priceless painting — the Mona Lisa— in layers of waterproof paper, boxed it up and spirited it to the French countryside for safekeeping. Leonardo da Vinci's smiling maiden moved another five times during the war before she was brought, safe and sound, back to the Louvre."

The novel picks up in 1942, telling the fictional account of the attempt to steal the Mona Lisa from the chateau where it had been taken. The main characters, Eric Hofstadler and Gabi Mueller, are Swiss citizens who are working as secret agents for the OSS, sent to help the citizens of Paris after the Liberation. They meet Bernard Rousseau, a member of the French Resistance, and Colette Perriard, a curator at the Louvre. After much confusion and danger, together the foursome go to the chateau and recover the Mona Lisa and return it to its rightful place. 
Although that is the basic plot of the book, many other subplots occur and keep Chasing Mona Lisa from becoming stale. On the contrary, this is a fast-paced book which holds the attention of the reader and makes for a very enjoyable read. I didn't want it to end. 
One piece of history that I discovered while reading this book is that much of the artwork "remained sealed in their boxes, but curators worried about the conditions of the Mona Lisa and took the painting out of its box.

'It was stored in a bedroom so that there would always be someone with her," said Fonkenell. "There were people who slept with Mona Lisa in their bedroom.'"

I love to learn history through the reading of fiction! (As long as I know which is which! :))

Authors Goyer and Yorkey are a talented duo. I highly recommend this book.
I give Chasing Mona Lisa 4 1/2 out of 5 stars!
(Available January 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Book Review: Small Space Organizing by Kathryn Bechen

I have struggled for almost 11 years to organize my home here in Tennessee. We have had seven people living in a 1500 sq. ft. house. I know that's a lot of space for many people in this world, but when you are used to having more space per person, it can be difficult finding room for everyone and all their "stuff".

I have been amazed at how some of my friends have managed to live in such small spaces. For example, I visited one of my husband's cousins once and she and her husband and daughter live in an RV. She showed me how she puts a lot of her things in plastic containers and simply doesn't buy much because she doesn't have room for anything "extra". She cannot buy books (YIKES!) and goes to the grocery store almost daily because she can't store much food at one time.

This book, Small Space Organizing, is an extremely helpful one for people like me and my husband's cousin. It is chock full of useful tips for organizing small spaces such as loft and basement apartments, beach cottages and high-rise condos, and even includes tips for those who live in one room. There are ideas for how to use furniture for multiple needs and what to do when you have overnight guests in order to make them feel at home without stressing yourself out. 

I have found many ideas in this book that I can implement right away. I think it will be a good tool to have handy whenever I need more help with my little home. I will be using this book for a long while!

This book is great for people who are downsizing their living spaces as well as those who, like me, simply need to learn to live in the small spaces we already have.
(There are many other tips plus photos at the author's blog.)

I give Small Space Organizing 5 out of 5 stars!

(I received this book from Revell for review purposes. I received no monetary compensation for this review. All opinions expressed are completely my own.)

Kathryn Bechen is an award-winning professional writer whose articles have appeared in popular national and regional magazines and newspapers. She specializes in lifestyle feature articles and has also published several organizing and decorating e-books. The lifestyle companies she founded, Organized with Ease and Kathryn Bechen Designs, have served clients worldwide. Kathryn has organized and decorated 13 personal small space residences together with her husband Steve, and they currently live in their favorite small space ever: a 1,200-square-foot high-rise apartment in beautiful San Diego, California. She blogs about timely lifestyle topics at

Friday, January 13, 2012

Book Review: The Keeper by Suzanne Woods Fisher (and an iPad giveaway!)

This is a new series from Suzanne Woods Fisher. I like how she writes about the Amish people in a way that is believable as well as entertaining. I'm sure the next books in the series will be as good.

About The Keeper:

Can Julia secure the future she’s always dreamed of? Or does God have something else in mind? 4 Stars from Romantic Times, “The Stoney Ridge Season starts off with characters who are trying to make the right choices, but sometimes with unexpected results. Fisher always brings freshness to her Amish novels. The Amish culture is interesting to read and learn about, but there is also a message: God has plans and those plans may vary greatly from the plans you have”.

I can identify with Julia, the main character in this book. When I read how she was rejected by her soon-to-be husband, Paul, I remembered the day I was hurt by an old boyfriend I had one summer many years ago. I, too, began to think of ways I could win him back. I soon realized, however, that I was better off without him. And, as in Julia's case, I learned many lessons about love along the way.

There's more to this book than your usual romance and sweet family life. There's also tragedy, life-changing struggles, and redemption. The plot is a good one because of these many facets. Mrs. Fisher's books keep getting better and better.

I give The Keeper 4 1/2 stars!

(By the way, just like Julia, my story has a happy ending: after accepting the fact that my former boyfriend was not the one for me, I met and eventually married my husband of 30 years!)

(I received this book from Revell for review purposes. I received no monetary compensation for this review. All opinions expressed are completely my own.)

About the author:

Suzanne has a great admiration for the Plain people and believes they provide wonderful examples to the world. In both her fiction and non-fiction books, she has an underlying theme: You don’t have to “go Amish” to incorporate many of their principles—simplicity, living with less, appreciating nature, forgiving others more readily— into your life.

When Suzanne isn’t writing or bragging to her friends about her first new grandbaby (!), she is raising puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. To Suzanne’s way of thinking, you just can’t take life too seriously when a puppy is tearing through your house with someone’s underwear in its mouth. Suzanne can be found on-line at:


The Keeper is in stores now and to celebrate Suzanne is hosting a “Honey” of a Giveaway and a fabulous FB Party (1/17).

*During the giveaway one Grand Prize Winner will receive a Prize Pack (valued at $600):

* A brand new 16 KB iPad 2 with Wi-Fi
* A $25 gift certificate to iTunes
* A copy of The Keeper

Then on 1/17 join Suzanne for The Keeper FB Party at 5:00 PM PST (6:00 MST, 7:00 CST, 8:00 EST)!

During the party Suzanne will announce the winner of the “Honey” of an iPad Giveaway and host a fun book chat and give away some fun “honey” inspired prizes – It’ll be ’sweet"! RSVP early and tell your friends!

The iPad giveaway:
Running now until January 17th

The Facebook Party:
Party is on January 17th, and the winner of the prize package will be announced there.
Be sure and enter today!